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Summary: Give & Get Employer Branding: Repel the Many and Compel the Few with Impact, Purpose and Belonging by Bryan Adams and Charlotte Marshall

Give & Get Employer Branding (2020) is a handy introduction and guidebook into the world of employer branding. You’ll find all the basic information you need to reinvigorate your employer brand in order to attract the best candidates and turn your current employees into loyal and eager ambassadors for your organization.


Marketing, Sales, Corporate Culture, Business and Money, Total Quality Management, Business Etiquette, Business Planning and Forecasting

Introduction: Learn how to attract the best talent and make your recruiting efforts more effective.

Have you ever heard of the Japanese principle ikigai? Basically, it’s a word that describes your reason for being. It’s that feeling of joy you get by doing things that give your life a sense of purpose and meaning.

Now, while few people would turn up their nose at being offered money for nothing, what we really want is to put our skills to work and make an impact – to earn a place of belonging and achieve something great. In other words, we want to give something in order to get something.

This is why the Give and Get approach to employer branding makes sense. It appeals to our fundamental desire to make a difference. And aren’t these the kind of people you want working for your organization? The sort of employees who thrive on overcoming challenges and making the most of their skills? Of course they are! So now’s the time to learn the basics of the Give and Get approach to employer branding, and start attracting those perfect candidates.

[Book Summary] Give & Get Employer Branding: Repel the Many and Compel the Few with Impact, Purpose and Belonging

In these summaries you’ll find out

  • why you should use the Hero’s Journey to attract candidates;
  • why you should think about Jedis and Avengers when recruiting; and
  • how a video featuring Usain Bolt can be a useful tool for improving candidate satisfaction.

If you want better candidates, create a better employee value proposition.

If you have vacant positions you need to fill, what do you do? Most businesses will attempt to attract candidates through the usual methods, like posting a standard job description on a few websites and social media channels like LinkedIn and Facebook.

Certainly, these efforts can result in a large number of applications piling up in no time. However, while everyone wants a decent selection of candidates, is there anything worse than going through heaps of unqualified and undesirable applicants? The answer to that question is, of course, “No.”

The key message here is: If you want better candidates, create a better employee value proposition.

Every hiring process takes time, money, and energy. There are résumés to sort through and candidates to interview. So wouldn’t it be great if you only had to deal with the best, most qualified, and highly motivated candidates?

It may sound radical, but it is possible to get better candidates by turning the majority of them away before they even send in a résumé. As the authors put it, it’s time to “repel the many and compel the few.”

The way to do this is through an honest and bold EVP, or employee value proposition. Essentially, an EVP is the answer to the question, “Why should I apply for this job or want to work for this company?”

Now, the traditional EVP usually includes a lot of positives. In order to attract candidates, they tend to be heavy on the benefits and perks and light on difficulties and challenges.

This may sound sensible, but it can easily backfire. After all, the more you make it sound like a cozy, unchallenging job, the more likely it is you’ll get unqualified candidates wasting your time. Or, on the other hand, by neglecting to mention all the challenges, you’ll get new hires who will quickly end up frustrated once the harsh realities of the job come to light.

This is why the authors are proposing the Give and Get approach to the EVP. Give and Get is all about putting the difficulties, struggles, and challenges of the job up front as a way to scare off the undesirables and leave you with only the candidates who have the right stuff.

You still tell the candidates what they’ll get from the job, but you’ll also emphasize the harsh realities and what they’ll be expected to give.

In the summaries ahead we’ll look at what you can expect from this bold, new approach – and how you can start activating it today.

Attract purpose-driven Jedis by establishing your company’s own strong purpose and emphasizing harsh realities.

You may be thinking, “Wait a minute…you want me to purposely attract fewer candidates?” Yes. But, keep in mind, we want to improve your recruitment and hiring process by attracting fewer unwanted candidates and stronger, more passionate ones overall.

This is what the Give and Get approach is all about: bringing you candidates that are eager to work for your company specifically. These are potential hires that are less likely to contribute to workforce turnover numbers and more likely to be loyal, hardworking superstars.

The key message here is: Attract purpose-driven Jedis by establishing your company’s own strong purpose and emphasizing harsh realities.

Every company wants Jedis, right? We’re talking meticulous, highly motivated, and deeply committed workers whose personal values mesh perfectly with the requirements of the job.

To attract purpose-driven Jedis, you need to both assert your company’s purpose and offer a clear challenge to your candidates – one that appeals to their own sense of purpose.

So, what’s the one central idea behind your company? How does it aim to improve the world? What’s your purpose? If you want loyal, committed, and motivated employees, you need to center your organization around a strong moral stance.

Your company’s purpose should be a major part of your overall company brand – the reason you have loyal customers should also be the reason you’re attracting loyal employees. So make sure your recruitment efforts highlight this purpose.

Consider Blizzard Entertainment. This company is riding high as makers of top-quality video games. Their brand is strong. They have a massive, loyal following of customers, and therefore they have no shortage of candidates chomping at the bit to work for them.

But this is only part of the solution. To prevent getting an avalanche of applications for every job, or getting people with the wrong skill level, you need an honest and forthright EVP – one that’s transparent about what the candidate can expect to get from the job while being equally upfront about what you expect the candidate to give.

It may sound unusual, but candidates appreciate honesty and humility from their employers. When you’re being aboveboard and authentic about the reality of the job, you’re also establishing trust with the candidate. This means you’re getting off on the right foot at the very beginning of your relationship.

But candidates also want to put their skills to work and fulfill a sense of purpose and belonging. Fortunately, there’s a perfect method to highlighting the ways in which someone can do just that. Let’s look at how.

Using storytelling techniques will also help you to create a strong and compelling employer brand.

If you’re familiar with the story of Luke Skywalker, then you’re familiar with the Hero’s Journey.

Back in the 1970s, George Lucas was struggling to complete his screenplay for Star Wars. Eventually, he passed it along to his friend and writer, Joseph Campbell, who helped punch up the story so that it followed a formula he’d been theorizing about: the Hero’s Journey.

Simply put, the Hero’s Journey is about a protagonist who comes from humble origins, desires something, faces a series of obstacles or conflicts, learns new skills, and ends up as an enlightened and stronger human being. It’s a powerful formula for storytelling that can also be used to help attract the best talent.

The key message here is: Using storytelling techniques will also help you to create a strong and compelling employer brand.

The concept of an employer brand is relatively new, dating back to around 1996. Like the general business brand that your marketing department works on, the employer brand is also what attracts people and makes you stand out from your competitors. Only in this case, we’re talking about employees rather than customers.

By using the power of storytelling as part of your employer brand, you can attract talented people who will want to put their skills to work for you. The first part of that story is establishing the purpose of your company; then set up the conflict.

In other words, your employer brand should set the stage for an opportunity. Think of it this way: if you want a Jedi master like Luke Skywalker working for your company, you need to establish a scenario in which your candidate could imagine themselves becoming Luke Skywalker. This scenario should challenge the candidate, put their skills to the test, and in the end – if they succeed – reward them with a heroic sense of achievement.

This is what it takes to build a strong Give and Get. You’re presenting a scenario where the candidate will be allowed to showcase their skills and thrive – but only if they’re prepared to face the challenges and considerable expectations your company has for them.

In the next chapter we’ll look at where you can find the perfect stories to share with your audience.

Research will help you to find the perfect stories to share with your audience.

You’re probably not a trained storyteller, are you? So how are you supposed to come up with engaging stories that will capture your audience’s attention?

Well, if you have a workforce of people who are succeeding at their job, then you have stories right under your nose, just waiting to be told. All you have to do is reach out and ask the right questions.

The key message here is: Research will help you to find the perfect stories to share with your audience.

While no two people are exactly alike, workplaces tend to have microcultures that exist within the company. For example, your marketing team may have a different microculture than the IT department.

The authors refer to these differences as personas. It’s your job to identify the various personas that make up your workforce, since you’ll want to highlight and appeal to these differences in your recruitment efforts.

Think of it as assembling your own Avengers superhero team. One of the reasons the Avengers movies are so popular is because each member of the team appeals to a different member of the moviegoing audience. By interviewing representatives from each microculture within your organization, you can capture these different personas, share their stories, and ensure your recruitment efforts are reaching the right kind of people.

So, what kind of questions should you be asking? Remember the elements of the Hero’s Journey; ask them what they want, what their priorities are, and what they hope to achieve in their roles. But also dig deep, and find out what makes their job difficult and challenging. Ultimately, you should see the elements of what they are required to give and sacrifice, as well as the rewards they get in return.

Try to interview multiple people from each team, and pay attention to the differences and similarities that emerge. From this research you should be able to identify the varied personas within your workforce. You can then use the resulting likes and dislikes to create individual stories to share with your audience.

For example, maybe your engineers like that they’re given the opportunity to work with the latest technology and brainstorm with the brightest minds – but they find it challenging to be traveling all the time and working long hours. This is the kind of Give and Get you can turn into a Hero’s Journey in order to attract other engineers.

Activating your brand will allow you to “re-recruit” your workforce and turn executives into brand ambassadors.

How big is your organization? Do you have offices in multiple locations? If so, you need to consider these geographic differences while identifying your personas. If you treat your US audience the same as your UK audience, you’re not going to get the best results.

When it comes time to activate your new employer brand, you should work up separate plans for each of your audiences. These plans should be tailored to touch on the desires and challenges that you’ve come to understand from talking to people in each of your departments and locations.

Once you’ve identified the personas and found personal stories that showcase success stories of people rising to the challenge, it’s time to put all this together and activate your new employer brand.

The key message here is: Activating your brand will allow you to “re-recruit” your workforce and turn executives into brand ambassadors.

Your new employer brand should capture the essence of your company brand and highlight the broader company culture that the marketing team has developed, while emphasizing personal stories within your workforce. It’s within this workforce that you can truly launch your new employer brand.

While doing your research and finding your stories, you should be able to identify the people who really respond well to the process. These people may be perfect for getting some of the spotlight during the rollout of your brand. When brand promotion comes from a coworker rather than from HR, the rest of the workforce is all the more likely to embrace it as well.

This is one of the benefits of the Give and Get approach: by sitting down with the workforce and getting into the details of what drives them, what their fears and concerns are, and how they overcome them, you can essentially “re-recruit” your workforce. After all, you’re making them into heroes! When you take someone’s story and reflect it back on them, it can spark new levels of loyalty and motivation.

Getting your workforce on board is one of the most powerful aspects of the Give and Get approach. Every hiring team wants a workforce of employer brand ambassadors who spread the word and generate high value referrals. This essentially makes everyone’s job easier, and it’s one of the primary reasons Give and Get can be so powerful when it’s working at its best.

Make your career site the center of your employer brand, and think in terms of “See, Think, Do, Delight.”

Let’s talk about materials. What are the tools that will get your employer brand off the ground?

You want to make your brand as simple and straightforward as possible. To do that, have a cheatsheet and employer brand guidebook ready for senior executives – and a toolkit for anyone else who may be a possible brand ambassador.

For all of your recruiting materials, include the best, most easily shareable stories that you’ve culled from your research and interviews. The more specific, the better. And never, ever use stock photos. Even an amateur iPhone photo is better than a generic stock photo in making your brand seem authentic and honest.

While you should put the brand message to work via digital and print ads on LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media sites, there’s another place you must focus on.

The key message here is: Make your career site the center of your employer brand, and think in terms of “See, Think, Do, Delight.”

Your website’s career page is where you can create the perfect platform for your employer brand. Research shows that around 80 percent of your career page visitors will land there directly from links on other sites – completely bypassing your website’s homepage. So don’t worry too much about other pages on the site.

As far as content goes, videos are really important in conveying your brand message because few mediums work better at telling a story. In fact, the authors are unambiguous in saying, “Video is a must.”

Capture images of teams tackling projects, people hard at work, and employees talking about the achievements they’re most proud of. Make it short, tell your story, and make it easily shareable.

When creating shareable content, use the See, Think, Do, Delight approach. This is an effective way of making sure your content is persuasive.

Ask yourself these questions: Does the content make the viewer See you as a potential employer? Does it make them Think about their ideal job? Does it lead them to Do something, like taking a survey or filling out an online form? Does it Delight by making them feel valued?

Delight may sound abstract, but it’s easy to provide. If the viewer makes the effort to connect, whether it’s through email or an application, make sure they get a quick response. If you have to send a rejection letter, make sure it’s constructive and offers advice on future applications.

When you provide good experiences, you’ll be far more likely to get referrals – even from people who don’t end up working for you.

There are objective metrics you can point to when launching your first Give and Get campaign.

You want a good example of delight? How about sending candidates a video of Usain Bolt wishing you luck, the day before your interview? This is something that Virgin Media started doing, and it’s precisely the kind of extra effort that led to the company revitalizing its employer brand.

While some aspects of the candidate experience can be hard to measure and keep track of, it’s not impossible to highlight the ways in which the Give and Get approach can improve your business.

The key message here is: There are objective metrics you can point to when launching your first Give and Get campaign.

Launching a new employer brand campaign isn’t always an easy sell. There’s a good chance that your bosses don’t even know what an employer brand is, and you may need to ask for a bigger budget than HR is currently getting. So, one of the most important metrics to keep an eye on is return on investment (ROI).

You can assure those in charge of budgeting that the Give and Get approach is all about reaping long-term rewards. In their studies of Give and Get campaigns, the authors show that while it may cost an initial investment to get an employee brand team together, conduct interviews, and research and test, this will quickly pay off.

Once put into action, the approach should result in a range of improvements, many of them measurable. You should see an increase in referrals, a more visible brand in the marketplace, and a drop in the employee turnover rate. Plus, you’re sure to be processing fewer unwanted applications. Lastly, since your candidates will be better informed prior to the application and interview process, you’ll be spending less time and money per hire.

The candidate experience, employee happiness, career website and social media stats, brand awareness, and quality of hire are all objective metrics that you can – and should – keep track of. Embarking on Give and Get employer branding is a good time to start keeping a monthly scorecard that tracks all of these metrics so that you’re always prepared and ready to share the good news.

Final Summary

The key message in these summaries:

The aim of the Give and Get approach to employer branding is to reduce the number of undesirable candidates and increase the number of highly qualified and motivated employees. You can accomplish this by asserting your purpose and how your company offers individuals a chance to accomplish something great. Your proposal should also be honest and humble about the challenges and difficulties that employees will face in the role being offered. This will repel those who aren’t up to the challenge while attracting passionate employees who want to apply their skills to a worthwhile purpose and make an impact. You can really appeal to these candidates by finding compelling stories from within your current workforce, using storytelling techniques to make them come alive in your recruitment materials and career website.

Actionable advice:

Make your brand simple and memorable with a strong slogan.

Ideally, you should be able to capture the essence of your brand in a few memorable words, like Blizzard Entertainment’s employer brand slogan “Find Your People.” or VF Corporation’s “Limit Less: Blur the line between a career and a calling.” These slogans capture the essence of what Give and Get is all about by tapping into our desires for belonging and a sense of purpose.

About the author

Bryan and Charlotte want to change the way the world approaches employer branding to attract, engage, and retain top talent. Their ultimate goal is to inspire company leaders to commit to a methodology that has the power to positively impact their entire organization. Collectively, they’ve activated countless employer brand campaigns–and they’re here to guide you away from the rabbit hole of old employer-brand ideas, and toward what they’ve discovered works.

Bryan is the CEO and founder of Ph.Creative, recognized as one of the leading employer brand agencies in the world with clients such as Apple, American Airlines, GVC, and Blizzard Entertainment. Bryan is also a bestselling author, podcaster, creative strategist, and specialist speaker.

Charlotte Marshall was named the 2019-2020 Employer Brand Leader of the Year and has successfully built and launched five Fortune 500 employer brands. She is an in-demand international speaker and the global employer brand lead at Danaher Corporation.

Bryan Adams and Charlotte Marshall


Stay tuned for book review…

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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